The Brief: May turns into Trump’s poodle

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.


Rather than the confident first steps towards Global Britain or a new “special relationship”, Theresa May’s cap-in-hand visit to Donald Trump smacks of a return to the humiliating poodling of the past.

Britain has long been America’s poodle. Everyone remembers Tony Blair and his puppyish subservience to Bush and his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are advantages to being a poodle. If your owner takes you for nice walks and doesn’t drown you in a canal in a fit of pique.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump is a man willing to waterboard his pooch if he thinks it will give him an advantage.

One British radio commentator put it best. He said that the UK had swapped a boring, difficult marriage to the EU to move in with a domestic abuser.

Donald Trump has shown worrying signs of fulfilling all of his campaign promises. He meant what he said before he was elected.

He has backed torture and rolled back US environmental protection. He is going to build that wall with Mexico. He is taking a wrecking ball to women’s reproductive rights.

Trump has promised to put America first. Why would Britain even come a distant second?

In this exclusive interview with, former US ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner spells it out.

“Why does this president want to go bilateral? Because the leverage of the United States will always be much higher than in a deal where the United States is negotiating with a regional economic organisation like the EU or a trading bloc,” he said.

Trump, a keen supporter of Brexit, only respects strength, as this piece explains. His “my Maggie” chumminess is as credible as his press secretary Sean “Comical Ali” Spicer.

May is not operating from a position of strength. She needs this to work. She needs a Chamberlain-esque piece of paper to wave about and crow that she has secured a future US-UK trade deal.

Any trade deal will work to America’s benefit not Britain’s.  And it will take years rather than the hopelessly optimistic 90 days some have suggested.

Tonight Trump welcomes his new lapdog. She will have to swallow her objections to the register for Muslims. And once the trade deal is done, the British will have to swallow a lot of chlorine chicken.


Gardner’s possible replacement as US ambassador to the EU has tipped the euro to collapse in the next 18 months. Unsurprisingly, Brussels was not impressed.

Donald Trump, far from being the harbinger of doom for the EU’s trade and foreign policies, could actually help ween Europe off its US dependence and confirm the EU as the world’s “leading trade power”.

The CETA trade deal has finally made it to calmer waters and a group of academics has come out in support of the way the EU brokers its agreements.

Martin Schulz may not have much hope of actually beating Angela Merkel later this year but if it were a direct vote it would be too close to call, according to a recent poll. Here’s a profile of the former Parliament president from a German point of view.

Schulz’s departure from Brussels could spell the end of Donald Tusk’s term as Council president, as the S&D group continue to balk at the idea of the EPP holding all three institution top jobs.

New European Parliament President Antonio Tajani has made his first gaffe, angering Greece by calling its neighbour “Macedonia”, resurrecting the often baffling name dispute Athens still has with Skopje.

Don’t miss this video explainer on what Malta expects to achieve during its presidency of the EU.

French Socialist presidential hopeful Benoît Hamon continues to liven up the race for the Élysée Palace after last night pledging during a debate to end the EU’s “3% deficit dogma”.

A Commission report on the justice systems of Bulgaria and Romania received two very different responses. Sofia barely acknowledged it as it was too busy adapting to life under a caretaker government, while Bucharest welcomed the executive’s mostly positive view of its reforms.

Romania’s progress could actually be a shot in the arm for its hopes of joining Schengen. Border controls are only supposed to stay in place until May but Berlin wants more time.

The Commission has promised more backing for circular economy projects.

Research money dried up for a partly EU-funded space mission that would have seen a spacecraft deliberately crash into an asteroid, if one ever threatens the planet. Cheer up, it MIGHT never happen…


EU finance ministers meet in Brussels tomorrow. There is also an informal meeting of justice and home affairs ministers.

Views are the author’s.

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